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The future of corporate dental plans discussed at recent roundtable

8 April, 2014

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Following Denplan’s recent roundtable at Employee Benefits Connect, Roger Matthews discusses the future of Dental Plans and getting oral healthcare awareness higher up the company agenda

The roundtable event at this year’s Employee Benefits Connect was entitled: “How can improving oral health have a positive impact on employee wellbeing?” It focussed on issues including:

  • The links between oral health and general wellbeing
  • Dental is one of the only preventive benefits on the market – looking after employee wellbeing before the need of reactive intervention.
  • Dental is a tangible, usable benefit, but has the capability to provide far more return on investment if engaged with effectively.
  • How valued is dental care to staff and company decision makers?

 

Dental health and links to chronic disease

Periodontitis (gum disease) is the most common chronic disease among humans with some 43% of adults suffering from it in the UK. Once one reaches the age of 60 that figure goes up to 65% and this is not only causing a significant cost to the taxpayer, but is also completely avoidable with the proper oral healthcare. It is also a strong indicator of other, often chronic, health problems in adults such as heart attack, kidney disease, diabetes and stroke to name but a few. Despite this, dental insurance continues to be viewed as separate from overall healthcare benefits.

Dental is one of the few preventive healthcare benefits open to employees, as benefits such as PMI are used to treat illness – not to help prevent illness from occurring. Providing schemes such as Denplan encourages regular dental attendance and increases awareness of the benefits of good oral health and the wider impact on general wellbeing.

 

Implementing change

Communication is a key factor in enhancing the status of dental healthcare and more needs to be done to communicate to employees the value dentistry provides as a wider healthcare benefit. By moving away from the perception that dentistry is solely focussed on the mouth and educating employees through effective communications about the wider benefit of being dentally fit, a dental plan becomes far more relevant to a company’s overall health and wellbeing strategy

According to YouGov, 62%1 of employees without a dental plan would consider one if their employer offered it and 54%1 of people believe that dental it a tangible, usable benefit, with Denplan starting from as little as £4 per employee, per month.

It seems that employees are not alone in the demand for dental benefits either, with 46%1 of companies reviewing their benefits considering adding dental. Furthermore, not only do 83%2 of employers with a dental plan recognise that they enhance employee wellbeing, but 68%2 of them believe that a dental plan helps to manage staff absences.

It seems that there is not only significant demand for dental as a benefit among employees and employers alike, but there is also a significant need for increasing dental care access in the wider public health agenda. Why is it then that dental benefits continue to be treated as a separate entity to healthcare benefits? When the evidence so strongly shows that dental healthcare can be a key indicator in the detection and early diagnosis of many more serious illnesses – surely it is time to recognise that dental benefits should be used as a key preventive healthcare benefit, rather than a bolt-on for PMI. 

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1 Source: Denplan/YouGov survey, January 2014. Total sample size was 5,148 adults. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

2 Source: Denplan decision-makers survey, January 2014. The survey was completed by 488 respondents. This research is based on a Denplan survey among employee benefit decision-makers in UK companies. 

 

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